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Bernie: Bradford holds up well in preseason debut

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by RamBill, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. RamBill Well-Known Member

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    Bernie: Bradford holds up well in preseason debut

    • Bernie Miklasz

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/colu...cle_a495108e-6164-5540-b2d2-11fb1d589453.html

    Given the funhouse-mirror nature of preseason football, it’s difficult to tell the difference between true form and distortion. But in his first exposure to tackle football since last Oct. 20, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford had no problems with his surgically-repaired knee ... or his fastball.

    Bradford’s skills were intact Saturday against the Green Bay Packers. His confidence was firm. His body was strong. He got walloped — hold your breath — and got up. Bradford’s timing was in synch with the speed of the game. Bradford misfired on an early deep throw — hey, he’s getting warm — but shook it off to fire a 41-yard strike to wide receiver Brian Quick.

    Back inside the Edward Jones Dome theater for his first rehearsal of 2014, Bradford was sharp in completing nine of 12 passes for 101 yards. The bullet points included a precision-zipped 11-yard touchdown to tight end Lance Kendricks that completed Bradford’s shift.

    “It felt good,” Bradford said at halftime, via the Rams’ media-relations staff. “It was nothing new, I’ve been here before. I think for everyone else it’s probably a bigger deal for me to get back out on the field. But it was nice to get out there in a live game, feel the pass rush, get the ball out of my hand, and go out there and execute the way that we did. I thought it was good.”

    There’s no dissent here. This was one small step for a quarterback, and one giant leap for the Rams’ peace of mind. The next mission: ushering Bradford safely through the remainder of the preseason haze and daze, and into the clarified reality of the Sept. 7 regular-season opener.

    I’ve seen too many junk exhibition games to get geeked about the visuals. But one interesting glimmer could be spotted during Saturday’s Rams-Packers exercise: the Rams made an attempt to get vertical in the passing game.

    Because this is the preseason, I don’t know if this was a preview of coming attractions, or just the sensible business of giving Bradford an opportunity to loosen his right arm.

    Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer believe in running the football, and their offenses have a history of success on the ground. The power-ball approach makes sense to cover the rugged terrain of the NFC West.

    But the Rams need to go vertical more often in 2014. Defenses know the Rams’ preferred style of play and will obviously anchor in to stop the run. The line of scrimmage and immediate vicinity figures to be crowded with defenders. The Rams must counter that by stretching the field — go north, young men — instead of always playing in traffic where nasty defenders roam.

    According to the data at the Advanced Football Analytics web site, around 17 percent of Bradford’s passing attempts over the past two seasons traveled 15 yards or more through the air. Only a few NFL quarterbacks had a lower percentage.

    In Schottenheimer’s two seasons, the Rams rank 24th among the 32 NFL offenses in yards per passing attempt. They like to throw the ball short, and they like to throw the ball wide. These numbers — and many others — make it easy to come to a conclusion on Schottenheimer’s passing-game philosophy.

    I’ll leave it to Aaron Schatz, editor of the respected Football Outsiders, who offered this observation-quip to the Turf Show Times site: “Schottenheimer seems to think you can stretch the field in two ways — horizontally and also horizontally.”

    This isn’t all about Schottenheimer. Due to several factors — primarily a history of loose pass protection, and the parade of so-so receivers that struggle to beat press coverage — Bradford often checks down early to dump the ball off to easy-access targets for short gains. (Worse, his completion percentage on shorter throws isn’t all that hot.)

    Schottenheimer and his QB must adjust their mindset this season — and I think we’ll see it happen. The Rams’ base will be on the ground, but I believe we’ll see them extend their passing game. They have to, or the offense can’t grow.

    I’m bullish on the Rams’ running game, but the grind-it-out strategy would be even better if the Rams avoid being predictable. They have to make defenses respect the threat of the deep ball.

    The running game should help the cause. As I’ve mentioned before, Bradford has done quite well on play-action passes during his NFL career.

    This is where wide receiver Kenny Britt looms as a potential VIP Ram in 2014. When Britt was in peak form at Tennessee in 2009 and 2010 — and working for Fisher — he emerged as a dangerous downfield presence.

    In 2010, Britt had the league’s best catch rate on throws of 20 yards or longer, and finished third with six touchdown receptions of 20-plus yards. The entire Rams’ receiving group, including tight ends, had only two TD catches of 20-plus yards last season.

    Britt is trying to revive a career beset by injuries and off-field shenanigans. While it’s true that Britt is having an impressive camp, he still has a lot to prove. Fisher was smart to take a chance on Britt. It was a low-risk gamble that could pay off big.

    I’ve seen analysts trash Bradford’s ability to throw the deep pass. That’s fine, but we saw him go there in 2012 in hooking up with then-rookie wideout Chris Givens. According to Pro Football Focus, Bradford ranked just outside the top 10 among NFL quarterbacks in accuracy on passes that traveled 20-plus yards that year. The arm strength is there.

    It comes down to three things: first, Schottenheimer has to think vertical more than horizontal. Second, Bradford has to reestablish the confidence to take aim downfield. And third, the Rams need a receiver to make those deep connections on time.

    We saw flashes of that in Saturday’s game. It looked good, and so did Bradford. But was it real?
     
    #1
  2. Angry Ram aka Captain RAmerica aka the OG Rammer

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    OK, I don't have a major issue with the Bernie article.

    I don't like the "Rams need to...." shtick again; b/c they'll play accordingly to the opponent and how the game carries out.

    For the vertical thing to work, all WRs must be able to beat opposing CBs more often. Especially guys like Kenny Britt and Brian Quick. They def. have the physical capabilities to do so.
     
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  3. RamBill Well-Known Member

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    #3
  4. Robocop Active Member

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    His 3 things are so obvious. no surprise there. If Schotty while plug more plays with deep options I think Bradford can and will take advantage. But I agree with Bernie that Schotty better start getting creative and vertical cus I'm getting tired of the guy's predictability
     
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  5. -X- Not into the whole brevity thing.

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    You can really see Bradford's eyes light up when he's talking about Quick now. He's excited about how that's gonna play out this year, methinks.
     
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  6. Dr C. Hill Member

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    I think it is hilarious that everyone in the free world is in universal agreement that Schotty has all the offensive vision of Mr Magoo. I don't think I have ever heard one person any time any place compliment that guy.
     
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  7. RamzFanz Well-Known Member Pit Boss

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    He has nice hair.
     
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  8. jsimcox Active Member

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    The funniest thing is, compared to certain other Rams staff (Looking at you Les), he doesn't even have that! :p
     
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  9. 69superbowl Member

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    I wish Sam would throw more interceptions. Really. I think his problem germinated when he was a rook. Due to the awful Rams awful personnel circumstances he was "handled" by staff to reduce the picks, fumbling and bumbling of prior QBs and administrations, and it worked. Sam Bradford, big time college gunslinger, became a safe, professional dink and dunk specialist. He put up decent numbers, got rookie accolades and he was off the races. Except he was driving an electric Toyota on a track filled with Indy cars.

    He sort of regressed; became too careful, too precise, and generally lacked the aggressive downfield passing gene needed to become a great QB in the NFL. The team struggled mightily, the fan base became blasé-to-mad-as-hell. He kept quiet, toed the company line, got hurt a couple of times and - boom - here we are in a supposed transition year again; with Sam perhaps stronger and wiser than he has ever been in his life, and surrounded by the best young talent the franchise has seen this century.

    I don't want "old Sam" being careful and smart and courteous. I want him to be what he was drafted to be - a great NFL QB. He's been a nice kid, obeyed the wishes of his coaching staff(s), played within a system designed "not to fail." Now it's time for Sam Bradford to take an axe carve out a big chunk of tree trunk in NFL history - his own history. Kick open the door, take chances Sam. Big ones. Throw your receivers open (Kendrick TD) instead of waiting for daylight. Hell, a doofus grocery store stock boy from nowhere created a billion points of light doing such a crazy thing. Just do it Sam: take the shot, you have the ability.
     
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  10. Angry Ram aka Captain RAmerica aka the OG Rammer

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    I think its hilarious fans and media types want to jump on the "blame the OC" bandwagon the very second a pass is incomplete.
     
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  11. Blue and Gold Active Member

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    on radio Balzer said Bradford haters do a lot of chirping from a distance, like you get from crickets. Then when Bradford does a good job and you walk up to the crickets and say something to them, they go silent.


    and the funny part is the haters don't get the joke.
     
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  12. Fatbot Member

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    I agree with these posts. From the first two (otherwise meaningless) preseason games it appears Schotty is dialing up more vertical action, so he's done his part to improve. I was pretty horrified when SB checked down on 3rd down on that opening series, but from then on he was the SB I was looking forward to seeing this season, taking the shots down field that Schotty was putting out there. I'd add a step 4 to Bernie's list -- if those 3 things click that will open up the underneath for Tavon to go crazy. And of course it all starts with the power running game that we haven't seen yet but hopefully clicks by real game 1.
     
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  13. Rams and Gators Well-Known Member Pit Boss

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    Yeah it's like "what the hell do you think you are Fisher? Some sort of professional coach who is paid to make these decisions? Everyone who isn't a coach for whatever reason can see it."
     
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  14. tonyl711 Member

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    lol, could it be possible that Fisher and Shotty realize they were playing with a bunch of WRs who wouldn't have started on any other team? a bunch of first and second year WRs who hadn't yet mastered their positions? that the Oline couldn't pass block? that they had their second string QB in the game more often than not?
    if Shotty was as bad as some of you claim he is, he wouldn't have a job in the NFL.
     
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